Another duo from my local library, 2 very different books – one by Agatha Christie, a classic mystery, another by Stephen King someone I’m surprised I haven’t read more of on this blog as he’s one of my favorite authors.
In the bestselling tradition of Black Coffee and The Unexpected Guest, a classic Christy mystery is finally available in novel form. Clarissa discovers a body in the drawing room and must hide it from her husband and the police while attempting to uncover the identity of the murderer.
At first glance, Stephen King’s latest bears a familial resemblance to Christine , his 1983 saga of a haunted, homicidal Plymouth Fury. But From a Buick 8 is a marked departure from this earlier tale of adolescent angst and teenage tribal rituals. It is the work of an older, more reflective writer, one who knows that the most pressing questions often have no answers.
The story begins in western Pennsylvania in 1979, when a mysterious figure parks a vintage Buick Roadmaster at a local gas station, then disappears forever. The police discover that the Buick isn’t a car at all but rather a Buick-shaped enigma: self-healing; impregnable to dents, dirt, and scratches; composed of unidentifiable materials; and containing a completely nonfunctional engine. Confronted with a mystery of unprecedented proportions, the troopers of Barracks D claim the Buick for themselves and spend 20 years attempting to understand its nature, purpose, and provenance.
Over the years, the Buick is the site of a number of inexplicable occurrences, from occasional blinding “lightquakes” to more sinister happenings that suggest this alien object is a doorway to another dimension. King recounts the most dramatic of these with an intensity and attention to detail that evoke a primordial sense of terror, awe, and revulsion. Through it all, and despite the obsessive fascination of those around it, the Buick remains an impregnable mystery. And that, of course, is very much the point. The world, King tells us, rarely stops to explain itself. From a Buick 8 is one of King’s best, mostly tightly focused novels since The Green Mile . With great narrative economy, it encompasses 25 years in the interconnected lives of a diverse group of characters, and its unmistakable, deeply familiar voice is as haunting and engaging as ever. On the evidence at hand, it’s clear that King continues to command the hypnotic power that has made him one of the dominant figures in modern popular culture. Bill Sheehan